6 Thoughts for Non-HR Professionals

We recently completed an HR training in Dallas, Texas, for Non-HR MBA students.  The training focused on the key areas that HR can and does impact in any organization.  Throughout the training we discussed the importance of aligning the HR department with the needs of the employees and organization; not an easy task, but necessary to move forward and progress.  I know the group of 100 MBA students have a new respect for the many hats that HR professionals continue to wear.

Below are 6 thoughts for non-HR professionals:

  1. Organizational Impact: HR can and does have an impact on the direction and strategy of the organization.  The HR function is as important as any other function within the organization.  Know the impact HR can have on the organizations mission, vision, culture, goals and objectives.
  2. Legal Arena: Labor and employment laws evolve and they change rapidly.  Interpreting and implementing legal change, continues to grow in complexity.  Federal, state and local laws can have an impact on the organization.  Ask questions and never assume you have the answer, legislation is one piece.  Remember the case law and amendments.
  3. Onboarding: Onboarding begins when an applicant applies for a job.  This process is critical to recruit and retain top talent.  Managers, coworkers and direct reports have ownership in ensuring the onboarding processes are organized and aligned with the organizations mission, vision and values.  If you were a new hire, what would you expect from recruiting to hire?  Put yourself in their shoes and reverse engineer a great experience.
  4. Training and Development: Training and development are extremely important pieces of the employment experiences.  Have we asked what training is important to the organization?  To the employee?  What can we afford?  Is there grant money available?  What about leadership development training?  Look for local and national opportunities for industry and profession specific training and development.
  5. Performance Feedback: Yes, employees want feedback!  In fact, continuous coaching and feedback, more than once per year will probably be an effective model.  Goals should be aligned with organizations goals and department goals.  These goals should also include training and development opportunities; degree, certification, leadership development, computer system training, financial, stretch assignments, etc.
  6. Conflict Resolution and Communication: The final thought can be the most difficult.  Resolving conflict and ensuring effective communication.  Never easy, but necessary.  As leader’s we will be in situations that require us to have that “difficult” conversation.  Practicing these conversations is never enjoyable, at times necessary to ensure we are prepared.  Communication is essential.  Know your organization and which communication tools are effective for your workforce.

 

6ThoughtsforNonHrProfessionals

These six thoughts are just a few of the important pieces of HR that do and will impact your organization.  As leader’s we need to recognize how these pieces effect our mission, vision, values, culture and employees.  Turnover is costly.  Recruiting is costly.  Training and retraining is costly.  Understanding these six areas’ will take work, but being an effective leader takes work.  Ask for help if you need it, people spend their careers specializing in each of the six areas.  Strategic HR can shape the mission statement, vision, culture, employee engagement and values of any of our organizations.

– Matthew Burr, HR Consultant

5 Considerations for Effective Workplace Investigations

We recently completed a successful training on effective and legal workplace investigations.  During the recording of our next podcast for Upstate HR, we also discussed workplace investigations and the importance of proactive investigatory processes.  Throughout my career, many of my experiences have provided valuable insight into the importance of effective and efficient workplace investigations.  As leaders, we need to take complaints and investigations seriously, as these issues can escalate into additional problems in the workplace, on social media,  and create stress outside of work.

Below are 5 considerations for effective workplace investigations:

  1. Don’t ignore the issue/complaint. If any employee approaches the organization with a complaint or allegation, we need to take this seriously.  Ignoring or hoping the issue goes away or resolves itself is not the right approach; we need to address the underlying issues.  Ask questions and ensure you understand the details of the issues/allegations.
  2. Never assume: Remember, there are two-sides to every story.  Do not assume that one party is guilty, because we only hear one-side of the story.  In most cases, fact-finding means understanding the entire allegation/situation before making a decision.
  3. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare: Preparing for the investigation interviews and fact-finding is challenging.  What questions do we ask?  What information do we need?  Who should we talk too?  The answer to this is that it depends on the situation.  Creating a template or checklist to ensure consistency and accuracy will help in working through the process efficiently and proactively.  Ask leading questions that force individuals to answer questions with more information, versus “yes” or “no” answers.  The more prepared you are, the more efficient the process will become.  Investigations are not easy and questions that are asked will not always be enjoyable for people to answer.  I have asked many of these questions throughout my career.  Be prepared, and know laws, policies, procedures, contract language, etc. that may be involved or impacted by the investigation.
  4. Neutrality: This consideration defaults back to consideration #2.  Remain neutral throughout the investigation and recommendation process.  This takes practice and is not easy in small organizations.  If you as a leader feel that neutrality is not practical internally, it is not always a bad idea to bring in a third-party to conduct the investigation and draft a finding of facts.  Using a third party all but ensures neutrality throughout the process.
  5. Closure/Conclusion/Recommendation: Throughout my career, I have seen this final step as the biggest hurdle for many organizations.  The investigation is conducted, information is gathered and then nothing happens.  Regardless of the outcome or recommended outcomes, the investigation needs to be closed.  I’m not suggesting revealing confidential information, but we do need to close the loop of communication with the parties involved.  Without proactive communication, we could see increased employee relations issues, decreased employee morale, and potential retaliation issues.  This is one of the most important pieces of the investigation process.

We closed out the podcast yesterday on a positive note.  Not all workplace investigations are negative or lead to discipline.  Workplace investigations are great for process improvement, addressing safety concerns, Six Sigma change, employee engagement, and efficiency.  Regardless, we need to take the investigation process seriously and manage it proactively, by reinforcing rules and policies throughout.  If you are unclear on how to investigate, ask for assistance or hire a third-party neutral to manage the process for the organization.

– Matthew Burr, HR Consultant

 

Below are the for upcoming training’s I will be conducting at Elmira College, Corning Community College (CCC), 247 Compliance and Compliance Online (July & August):

Elmira College: SHRM Certification Exam Prep Course- September through November

Upcoming Corning Community College Training’s

247 Compliance: Performance of Dashboard Using KPIs and Designing

 

Below is a link to our new Podcast Upstate HR:

Recruitment in the Modern Age

iTunes subscription will update you whenever we post a new podcast.

New podcast recently updated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 Common Job Application Mistakes Made by Employers

The Society of Human Resources Management recently published an article, “Top 10 Mistakes Employers Make in Job Applications.”  I decided to add three more to the list, based on my experience.  Most employers nationwide, are still using a job application, handwritten or during the online application process.  As leaders, we need to be aware of the potential issues of not updating employment applications or using a generic employment application.  As laws continue to evolve, so too should our employment application processes.       

Below are the 13 common job application mistakes:

  1. “Including any disability-related or medical questions
  2. Not including an at-will disclaimer
  3. Not including a nondiscrimination statement
  4. Requesting graduation dates in the education section
  5. Asking about arrests and convictions, without appropriate disclaimers
  6. Putting a background check acknowledgement on the employment application (I see this too often)
  7. Not including language telling applicants how to request a reasonable accommodation
  8. Asking for a photograph
  9. Asking about marital or familial status
  10. Asking about citizenship”[i]
  11. Not including a signature section to verify that the applicant is acknowledging the information is true and accurate. Remember a resume or CV is not the same thing as an employment application.
  12. Including a section for a social security number, on either the paper application or by not allowing a person to continue through the applicant tracking system. Do we really need a social security number?  “An employment application should request only information directly related to an applicant’s ability to perform a specific job… general practice, employers should request SSN information only when absolutely necessary.”[ii]  If you do not need it, don’t ask for it.
  13. Using generic employment applications. “Well I found this on the internet, it should be okay.” Ensure that someone reviews the application or helps you develop a new one prior to using it during the hiring process.  Just because it is found on the internet does not make it legal and valid.

Employment applications are an important piece to the recruitment and retention process for all organizations.  Asking irrelevant questions on the application can be a potential liability.  As the laws continue to evolve, we need to ensure our employment application, both paper and electronic are legally compliant and efficient for job applicants.  If you have questions about your application, ask for assistance.  Do not assume that the first Google search will provide a legal job application.  Remember laws vary; federally, state-wide and city specific.  These laws will impact what can and cannot be asked on the employment application.

 

– Matthew Burr, HR Consultant

“Short Name, Proven Results”

 

[i] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/top-10-mistakes-employers-make-job-applications.aspx

 

[ii] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/hr-qa/pages/socialsecuritynumber.aspx

 

3 Updates to the New York Paid Family Leave Law

As we move closer to 2018, the regulations on the New York State Paid Family Leave Law will continue to be communicated from the state.  On June 1, 2017, the state released the maximum employee contributions.  This will be the average deduction that will be taken out of the employee’s paycheck.

Below are the 3 updates:

  1. Clarification on the payroll deductions and employer portions. This clarification is not new.  However, I have been asked about the employer portion many times.  The paid family leave “is intended to be funded entirely through employee payroll deductions and employers are not required to fund any portion of this benefit.”[i]
  2. The maximum employee contribution was set at 0.126% on June 1, 2017, of an employee’s weekly wage, up to and not to exceed 0.126% of the NY statewide average weekly wage. The current statewide wage is $1,305.92.  “So, for example, if an employee’s weekly wage amounts to $1,000.00, the maximum payroll deduction for PFL would be $1.26 for that week.”[ii]  If any employee makes more than $1,305.92, the weekly amount will be capped at $1.65.  Multiply the 0.126% by the wage to calculate the deduction.
  3. The statewide average weekly wage is calculated annually on March 31st and will be based on the previous calendar year’s average weekly wage. As wages increase across the state, so will the paid family leave contribution deductions, out of the employee’s paycheck.        

As new information is released, I will send a breakdown of the regulations.  Now is the time to begin reviewing, drafting, updating and revising policies and procedures related to FMLA and Paid Family Leave.  January 1, 2018 is only six short months away.  If you are confused, ask questions and do not assume.  This law is very complex, it continues to change as new regulations are slowly released.

New York State Paid Family Leave Website

Premium Rate for Family Leave Maximum Employee Benefit Contribution Website

 

Reminder of Previous Information: 

[iii]

 

Want to learn more? Check out the upcoming trainings I will be conducting at Elmira College, Corning Community College (CCC), 24/7 Compliance and Compliance Online  in July & August:

Elmira College: SHRM Certification Exam Prep Course- September through November

Upcoming Corning Community College Training’s

247 Compliance: Performance of Dashboard Using KPIs and Designing

 

 

– Matthew Burr, HR Consultant

 

[i] https://www.bsk.com/media-center/3723-labor-employment-new-york-sets-maximum-employee-contribution-paid-family

 

[ii] https://www.bsk.com/media-center/3723-labor-employment-new-york-sets-maximum-employee-contribution-paid-family

 

[iii] Guardian PPT Training Slides